Diurnal and lifetime patterns of feeding and reproductive activities of three fruit fly species, Ceratitis cosyra (Walker), C. fasciventris (Bezzi) and C. capitata (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Tephritidae), were studied in cages of increasing scale: laboratory cages, standard field cages and a greenhouse. Consistency of behavioural patterns in different caging systems was assessed. The diurnal feeding patterns of female flies were influenced by type of cage, being uniform throughout the day in laboratory cages and changing to either bimodal or unimodal, depending on species, in the greenhouse. In contrast, feeding patterns of male flies were consistent among caging systems, and were uni-modal in C. fasciventris and C. capitata with a peak in morning and late afternoon, respectively. For both sexes of all species, highest feeding frequencies were recorded in field cages. In all three species, diurnal patterns of reproductive behaviour, such as periodicity of calling and mating (except for oviposition) were not affected by cage type. However, for C. capitata, higher frequency of calling was observed in the greenhouse, while higher frequency of mating was observed in field cages. We discuss the rationale for use of a greenhouse rather than standard field cages for pre-release evaluation of reproductive performance of sterile C. capitata males in SIT programmes.
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